September 15, 2009
SSRN Tax Faculty Rankings
For purpose of Ted’s analysis, a tax professor is initially defined as any full-time law professor at a U.S. law school (1) self-identifying with one of the tax categories in the AALS faculty listing, (2) who has posted at least one tax or tax-related article in abstract or full text on SSRN. Paul Caron’s listing of new hires and lateral transfers is also reflected. Further corrections are made as requested. As is true of Paul Caron’s ranking of individual tax professors, downloads of all SSRN postings of any tax professor, so defined, are then tallied. Articles co-authored by members of a single faculty are counted only once towards that faculty’s tally.
For more on the use of SSRN downloads in law school rankings, see Bernard S. Black & Paul L. Caron, Ranking Law Schools: Using SSRN to Measure Scholarly Performance, 81 Ind. L.J. 83 (2006).
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I wonder if you would share with your readers some of the work on the rather serious limits of SSRN downloads as a ranking system. For example, they tend vastly to exaggerate the significance of social science-oriented scholarship (as the name suggests) over other areas. In my experience they also discriminate heavily against women and minority faculty: of the top 40 or so "all time" top SSRN downloaders [in all subjects] virtually none were women, which seems counter to logic and persuasiveness. Finally and most obviously, the downloads say nothing about the quality of the article, or its later influence. There has been work on this cited on various blogs that your readers might be interested in (or reminded of).
Posted by: Michael A. Livingston | Sep 15, 2009 1:08:49 PM
As I have written before I am not a fan of SSRN rankings or those who draw inferences from them about quality or anything else other than the ability of SSRN to count. Still, except for the individual rankings it seems like these outcomes are dependent on the number of tax faculty at a school. How about taking two additional steps? Remove from the total non tax articles and then divide by the total number of tax faculty at that school.
Posted by: Jeff | Sep 18, 2009 9:07:10 AM